Sunday, December 24, 2006

Last Words on the Japan Trip

Kofuku-ji Pagoda 2

In the little notebook I carry everywhere, I made a list of topics to write about regarding my trip to Japan. The list looks something like this:
shojin ryori
best shopping/souvenirs
biking in Kyoto
favourite photos
Otagi Nenbutsu-ji
rickshaw boys
I've been back for over a month now so I have to admit I'm probably never going to get around to writing much about those unchecked themes. But since I despise leaving lists uncompleted...

Friends: I am very lucky to have groups of people who I was able to pick up with even after not meeting for four years. These were my kendo friends, my work friends and my drinking friends. I'm super-grateful to the ones who made a lot of effort to organize parties for me. Atsuko travelled a long way to meet me for lunch, too!

Shojin ryori: While staying at Mount Koya, I knelt to enjoy four meals prepared in the traditional vegetarian style of Buddhist cuisine. Sure, some of the dishes were quite bland (local tofu, fermented bean dishes and such) but most of the food was really fresh, tasty and healthy. I couldn't help but wonder, though: I thought Buddhist monks lived in simplicity, eschewing luxury in this world. Shojin ryori cuisine, however, is labour intensive and requires special kitchen staff to prepare it. This is not simple food.

Koya-san: I still love that place. Even going to bed early for lack of things to do is a delight there. Because of the unseasonably warm autumn in Kansai this year, Koya-san was the only place I got to see some decent fall colours.

Best shopping/souvenirs: My favourite purchase is my 'very Japanese' asymmetric wool and angora jacket from Muji. Mine's in black. Also, my gorgeous Kyoto mug from Starbucks (I know, I know, sorry) keeps me in happy memories at the office.

Favourite photos: Now that I have uploaded all the decent shots to Flickr, I think that my favourite photos of the trip are the red themed ones from Monday's post. See the rest of the photos here for Week 1 and here for Week 2.

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